Enschede restores former urban brook

Enschede is highly prone to waterlogging and has already conducted multiple stress tests and risk dialogues. According to the 2014 stress test, the risk of waterlogging is highest in the Pathmos and Stadsveld neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods feature narrow streets, with extensive pavement and little greenery. Torrential rain leaves water on the streets, which occasionally flows into buildings. The municipality intends to combat waterlogging by restoring one of the brooks that used to run through the city of Enschede.

Enschede has been selected as an implementation pilot. In 2020, the city received a grant from the national government in the purview of the Urban Brook. This grant enables the municipality to give impetus to the construction of the Urban Brook in Pathmos and Stadsveld. The pilot will run up to mid-2021.

Why is Enschede prone to waterlogging?

Enschede is situated on a lateral moraine and consequently features differences in elevation of up to 44 metres. During severe downpours, rainwater flows to the lowest elevations, where it causes waterlogging. In addition, 82 brooks used to crisscross the city. Most of these brooks have disappeared as a result of the increase in buildings and pavement in the city. This hampers rainwater drainage. Furthermore, the layers of loam in the moraine subsoil prevent the water from infiltrating into the ground. These layers of loam are not permeable to water.

Fotograaf: Ruud van der Linden

What does the new Urban Brook look like?

The Urban Brook extends over a total length of 2.2 kilometres and is being constructed in three phases. The third and last section - Elferinksweg – is by far the most complex. Construction of this section of the Urban Brook will commence in August 2020. In the Pathmos and Stadsveld neighbourhoods, the municipality will restore part of the old brook structure, in collaboration with the Vechtstromen district water board. In addition to rainwater, the brook will also discharge excess groundwater: the neighbourhoods are faced with extremely high groundwater levels, and via a drainage and infiltration system this water will also end up in the brook. Thus, groundwater is discharged during wet periods and supplemented in periods of drought. Additional greenery and trees along the brooks will boost the neighbourhoods’ heat resilience and will enhance biodiversity. The municipality has joined forces with a construction team to ensure an optimum balance between project budget, project goals, quality, societal acceptance, and social costs.

Fotograaf: Ruud van der Linden

What else is Enschede doing?

In addition to the construction of the Urban Brook, the municipality is encouraging residents and housing corporations to climate-proof their gardens. In September 2020, it is launching a campaign to this effect. The municipality has noticed the importance of intensive communication with residents and of giving them a say in the measures to combat waterlogging. The relevant discussions with residents constitute the point of departure for a more comprehensive discussion on several important issues, such as sustainability, liveability, health, biodiversity, and road safety. These discussions have already garnered more support and enthusiasm for the construction of the Urban Brook.

How do you motivate residents?

Many residents of these neighbourhoods live on a fairly low income. How can you motivate them to climate-proof their environment? In the campaign, the municipality is utilising several initiatives. Some examples:

  • the urban groenblauwenschede.nl campaign;
  • a study conducted by some 200 students of the Saxion University of Applied Sciences Communication programme into ways to encourage residents to take climate-adaptive measures;
  • collaboration with the 1Twente regional public broadcasting service: water.1twente.nl.

Contact person

Rik Meijer
Gemeente Enschede

Project type
Completed measure
Gemeente Enschede, waterschap Vechtstromen, Universiteit Twente & Saxion Hogeschool
District / neighborhood
Drought, Heat, Waterlogging